Kelly Strayhorn in “Full Bloom”

PITTSBURGH — Named after native talents Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater is an example of a multi-use facility with programming that includes stage performances as well as workshops and classes. 

Recently, the “Summer Full Bloom” fundraiser at the Kell Strayhorn featured a VIP dinner (on-stage), a dance party, and beer garden. The event drew donors and community sponsors to the 300+-seat theater located in East Liberty. An auction included some locally-made items like a cotton poncho by Kiya Tomlin and a handbag by Sandra Cadavid.

Like many urban areas, East Liberty is in the middle of a Tech Boom. Google opened offices in Bakery Square on Penn Ave, and across the street, construction has begun on Bakery 2.0. Down the street, a new bus station is going up across from a new luxury hotel. Still, amidst the new, are remnants of what makes Pittsburgh an arts-centric city. The Kelly Strayhorn is a classic. Starbucks has yet to be seen in the neighborhood. Instead, there is Zeke’s, a locally-owned coffee house with locally-produced gourmet edibles and drinks.

Amid dust, heralding a construction boom, artists and their patrons, flock to East Liberty for rehearsal and for meetings.

A Gothic church reminds visitors of the city’s history. Nearby, Bakery Square — and next-door neighbor Trader Joe’s — represent the future of Steel City. Progress with an arm outstretched to The West. Pittsburgh is a city where musical events and plays happen simultaneously with the creation of new algorithms, and where local citizens may soak in the vibe whilst listening to the Sex Pistols at Zeke’s, drinking a delicious cup of Joe at a reasonable price.

It is fitting that the Kelly Strayhorn kicked off the Summer with “Full Bloom,” a phrase that also speaks to the growth of the urban space surrounding the iconic theater.